Kentucky signee Bell committed for Joker, stayed for Stoops

broberts@herald-leader.comFebruary 6, 2013 

The most highly touted 2013 prospect to commit to the previous Kentucky coaching staff was none too happy when he got the news that Joker Phillips had been fired.

Four-star defensive end Alvonte Bell had pledged to Kentucky (and Phillips) despite offers from Notre Dame, Florida State, Clemson, Louisville, Mississippi State and several other top schools.

"I was disappointed," he said. "I thought they could have given him another chance. I didn't think it was his fault."

Then UK hired Mark Stoops as its head coach. Next came defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot.

The commitment to defense meant a lot to Bell, who decided to keep his commitment to the Cats.

"Getting Stoops and Eliot — it was even better because they're a defensive coaching staff," he said. "I've only really played one full season of football, so I'm still raw. So going up there and learning from them is really great for me."

Academics and injuries limited Bell's high school career in Miramar, Fla., but his grades are in order and the severely sprained ankle that cut short his senior season will be all better by the fall.

Despite playing only four games this past season, Bell was targeted by the new UK coaching staff as a player they wanted to keep in their class.

Bell said Stoops called him the day after he was hired at Kentucky. Eliot called during his first day on the job.

The coaches had offered him a scholarship at Florida State, and he remembered liking them during his recruitment.

"They're good people, but FSU wasn't really a choice for me," he said. "(The SEC) was really the only conference that I was looking at."

Once he knew he was sticking with the Wildcats, Bell was able to sit back and see who would join him in Lexington.

"It was fun to see who we would get next," he said. "Now I want to be one of the pioneers to help rebuild this team on defense and help Coach Stoops rebuild this program."

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats. Blog:

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